The Art of Negotiation

Deal or No Deal

Because “Negotiations crop up on the way to decisions big and small—when to fill the gas tank, how to spend money, who picks up the kids…” notes Psychology Today, most of us can “benefit from the same (negotiating) skills world leaders use to solve problems. And best of all, getting better at reaching agreement is pretty painless.” The article “The Art of Negotiation” offers tips from University of California system negotiator Gregorio Billikopf.

Billikopf recommends starting on common ground. “Approach the other person by talking about a neutral topic of mutual interest—say, baseball or knitting. It helps both parties relax and starts the flow of conversation. Transition to the problem by saying, ‘I want to talk about an issue important to me, but first I want to hear what you have to say about it.’”  He goes on to say, “Intimidation can be powerful—but use it sparingly. Empty threats will diminish the other person’s respect for you.” And “Don’t yield. Instead, look for compromises. Compromise is like stretching. Stop doing it and pretty soon there’s no way to bend at all.” See the article for more good advice.

According to Barry J. Elms, “With the right strategies we can all shape successful deals whether we are buying, selling, solving customers’ problems, managing conflict, or just dealing with difficult people.” He shares some of his own winning strategies in the Business Credit article “How to Negotiate Well and Win.

“The key to success in any negotiation is preparation,” Elms says. “The more you know about the circumstances surrounding the situation, the more control you will have to direct the outcome.” And “Play it cool. Emotions are both a tool and a hazard in the negotiation process. Understanding the other party’s emotional commitment is important to help secure an effective win/win deal. However, make sure you always have control of your emotions during a negotiation. Never lose your temper or show excitement unless you know the other party well enough to be sure that they will not manipulate your exposed emotional state.”

The Negotiation Board offers “99 Tips for Becoming a Better Negotiator” – including “Work body language to your advantage.”  Also “Be prepared for surprises.” And “Leverage your BATNA (Best Alternative to No Agreement).”

To delve deeply into this topic, see Raymond Saner’s book The Expert Negotiator: Strategy, Tactics, Motivation, Behaviour. Saner discusses such topics as conflict resolution, complex negotiations, leading a delegation, and cross-cultural factors.


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